The new Fiat Panda 4x4 is scheduled to make its debut at the Paris Motor Show on September 27.
Thirty years since the original was launched, the third-generation Panda 4X4 remains the only all-wheel-drive vehicle in the city-car segment. Thanks to its lightweight construction, robust powertrain, and compact footprint, it balances a surprising degree of off-road ability with impressive on-road manners and refinement.
To reduce mechanical drag and wear-and-tear, as well as improve fuel economy and lower emissions, the Fiat Panda 4x4 operates in front-wheel drive mode during normal driving condition, but when the vehicle's sensors detect a loss of traction torque is automatically and immediately sent to the rear wheels via an electronically-controlled central coupling.
For added control, both electronic stability control and electronic locking differential are standard, the latter providing additional traction on slippery terrain (snow, ice, mud ) by directing torque to the wheels with the most grip by braking the slipping wheels. ELD is activated at the press of a button and operates up to speeds of 50km/h.
The new suspension offers improved on-road handling and comfort despite the increased ground clearance and heavier-duty components. The front utilises a McPherson strut format, while the rear suspension employs a torsion beam setup in lieu of the previous model's semi-trailing layout. This option offers weight, ride-quality and acoustic benefits without compromising off-road performance.
Two engines power the new Fiat Panda 4x4: the 85bhp twinair turbo and the 75bhp 1.3 multijet II turbo-diesel, both with start and stop as standard. The twinair turbo features a six-speed manual gearbox with low-range first gear for improved uphill starts, while the new multijet II engine is equally improved in off-road situations thanks to a torque increase of 30 per cent versus the current Panda 4x4. Additional under-body protection is also provided as standard.
Styling revisions include new bumpers with metal-effect inserts, wheel arch extensions, side skirts and door cladding constructed from scratch-resistant black plastic (complete with recessed "4X4" logo ), and unique 15-inch alloy wheels.
Two unique 4X4 colours, "Sicilia" orange and "Toscana" green metallic are also offered, complete with matching interior detailing.
Fiat Group Automobiles Ireland says the outgoing Fiat Panda 4x4 sold out rapidly in the wake of two extremely harsh winters, and that it was Ireland's most affordable off-road vehicle.
With the new model, Fiat in Ireland is waiting for confirmation of 2013 VRT and road tax revisions before making a decision on its availability here.